ALIENS versus PADDINGTON

Forgive the clickbait title of this post, there is a serious point to this. I regularly recommend films here, but today’s recommendation is completely out of character and I wanted to give you some context. I saw PADDINGTON 2 this weekend just gone, and it was quite simply one of the best films I’ve seen. I laughed a lot, I cried a bit, and I loved it completely.

I’d read a review before seeing the film which said “Following a year of big-budget disappointments, this sequel is an hour and forty minutes of absolute joy.” That’s played on my mind since we left the cinema, and I decided to devote a little time to trying to work out why some sequels work whilst many others don’t. Looking back through other movies I’ve watched this year, one particular film stood out as an obvious counterpoint to PADDINGTON 2’s success, and that’s ALIEN: COVENANT. Yes, these are diametrically opposite movies intended for wholly different audiences, but they’re both sequels and therefore have certain things in common. Bear with me and I’ll explain (pun absolutely not intended – I may be a hack at times, but I’m not that bad).

In the interests of full disclosure, I have a real affection for PADDINGTON. I grew up watching and reading about the furry little bugger, and my wife and I made sure to indoctrinate our daughters in the cult of the little bear from darkest Peru before they were old enough to protest. My wife’s far, far worse than me, by the way. She has it really bad. She has a Paddington tattoo (honest).

Also in the interests of full disclosure, I love the ALIEN movies and will watch every single one that’s made, no matter what. The first and second (and third, to a lesser extent) films are ground-breaking in many ways. Ridley Scott’s original 1979 film in particular is incredibly influential and had a huge impact on me back in the day. It’s a masterclass in creeping, claustrophobic terror and features a creature which, to my mind, remains one of the ultimate movie monsters.

Sequels are funny things. ALIENS, for example, is often cited along with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and TERMINATOR 2 as a prime example of how to do it right, but for every good sequel there are many, many more inferior follow-up films. So why am I so enthusiastic about PADDINGTON 2 but was underwhelmed by COVENANT?

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One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning – read the opening chapter

“She gasps for breath, her mind in overload, struggling to work out what, who, how, and why? and at the same time trying to cope with the most horrific pain imaginable. It fills her whole body, hurting so much it steals her breath from her lungs. Her arms give way and she hits the deck and rolls over onto her back, looking up into the rain and spray. She’s numb and slow to move, and the chain lashes down again and again. She instinctively raises her hands to protect her face, but it does her no good. Busted fingers, split skin, broken teeth, more blood, and so much more pain that it almost stops hurting.”

Less than a month now until the new HATER novel – ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING – hits the shelves. You can read the gruesome, tone-setting first chapter right here.

In the meantime, don’t forget that signed copies are exclusively available to pre-order from this link. They’ll be shipping shortly, so please get your orders in quick.

A starred review from BOOKLIST for ONE OF US…

Not long now until ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING hits the shelves, and the novel has received a starred review from BOOKLIST. “Moody really knows how to write creeping, claustrophobic terror, effectively sneaking up on his readers and, finally, scaring the life out of them. Top-drawer horror.” Very happy with that!

Pre-order your signed copy today.

The book is released in hardcover by Thomas Dunne Books on 5 December, and pre-orders will be shipped by that date (if not a little before). You can also order the book from AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book DepositoryIndiebound and all other good bookstores. Ebooks are also available, and an audio version is coming soon.

Recommended Reading – THE DARKEST HAND trilogy

I recently had the pleasure of reading TARN RICHARDSON’S THE DARKEST HAND trilogy. The final book in the series – THE RISEN – was released earlier this year. This is an excellent series of books which deserves to find a wide audience. Set in Europe in an alternative twentieth century against the backdrop of World War I, it’s the story of Inquisitor Poldek Tacit. Tacit is sent by the Catholic Inquisition to investigate the murder of a priest in France, and finds himself neck deep in a battle between demons, werewolves, and heretics to prevent the world spiralling into oblivion. Don’t get the impression that Tacit is a quiet little fellow in robes wandering around Europe dispensing words of wisdom to placate the opposing sides – he’s anything but. He’s a battle-damaged, emotionally scarred, vicious, ruthless bastard, and one of the most entertaining protagonists I’ve read about in a long, long time.

I had a blast with these books, and I’d like to encourage you to do the same. Here’s the spiel for book one, THE DAMNED:

1914 – the outbreak of war. In the French city of Arras, a priest is brutally murdered. The Catholic Inquisition—still powerful, but now working in the shadows—sends its most determined and unhinged of Inquisitors, Poldek Tacit, to investigate: his mission to protect the Church from those who would seek to undermine it, no matter what the cost.

Yet as Tacit arrives, armed forces led by Britain and Germany confront each other across No Man’s Land. As the Inquisitor strives in vain to establish the truth behind the murder and to uncover the motives of other Vatican servants seeking to undermine him, a beautiful and spirited woman, Sandrine, warns British soldier Henry Frost of a mutual foe even more terrible lurking beneath the killing fields that answers to no human force and wreaks havoc by the light of the moon.

Faced with impossible odds and his own demons, Tacit must battle the forces of evil, and a church determined at all costs to achieve its aims, to reach the heart of a dark conspiracy that seeks to engulf the world, plunging it ever deeper into conflict.

This is the perfect time to pick up THE DAMNED and work your way through the trilogy. The first book is the next novel to be featured on the excellent IN THE SHEETS podcast, hosted by Brendan Cooney. Head over to the site and join the discussion. And while you’re there, there’s still time to take part in the HATER re-read. I’ll be joining Brendan later this month to talk about HATER and answer questions about the novel, the rest of the series and the film adaptation etc.

THE DARKEST HAND trilogy – THE DAMNED, THE FALLEN and THE RISEN – is available now. Find out more about Tarn at his website. You can also pick up THE HUNTED, a free ebook prequel, and dive into Richardson’s bloody and brutal world. Highly recommended!

ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING – preorder your signed copy today

Lots of people have been asking, so here you go. You can preorder a signed hardcover copy of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING now from this link.

The book is released in hardcover by Thomas Dunne Books on 5 December, and pre-orders will be shipped by that date (if not a little before). You can also order the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, Indiebound and all other good bookstores. Ebooks are also available, and an audio version is coming soon.

HATER on IN THE SHEETS podcast

Hater (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009)I’m really excited that HATER is the first book to be featured on IN THE SHEETS, a new podcast from Brendan Cooney. Each month, Brendan and his audience will pick two books to read, review, and discuss. The author will introduce the book at the beginning of the month, then take part in an extended podcast towards the end of the month to answer any questions and meet the readers.

Brendan’s been a long-time supporter of my work, and I’m honoured he’s chosen HATER as the first book for this new venture. You can hear Brendan and I talking about the book on episode one.

This isn’t designed to be a passive experience, so please get involved. Join the IN THE SHEETS Goodreads group, subscribe to the podcast, and follow the discussion on Twitter and Facebook. I hope I get the chance to talk to some of you about the book. If you don’t make it this time, make sure you register for updates because I’ll be back in the next couple of months to do the same thing with ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING.

Kirkus Reviews – One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning

First reviews are coming in for the new HATER book, and I’m pleased folks seem to be enjoying it. Here’s the KIRKUS review of the book… They’re saying it’s “another wetwork nightmare that should delight fans of Haters and intrigue writers who wallow in the genre” which sounds good to me!

ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING is released on 5 December by Thomas Dunne Books. Signed copies will be available to pre-order from www.infectedbooks.co.uk in the next few weeks.

Two Halves Make a Whole

I’ve told you a lot about it, but I don’t think I’ve properly explained why I’ve been writing a second HATER trilogy. Is it a cynical cash in? A cheap way to drum up interest in my books again after a quiet couple of years? The answer to both those questions is a very definite ‘no’.

The new trilogy has its roots in some of the many movie-related discussions I’ve had about the books over the years. On numerous occasions, producer Ed Barratt and I have talked about TV adaptations (and we came tantalisingly close to getting that off the ground at the turn of this year but, as is so often the way, our plans unravelled at the last moment). Ed and I discussed the issues we’d face trying to translate HATER, DOG BLOOD and THEM OR US to the small screen. Part of the attraction of the books is the fact they focus exclusively on one man’s story, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that this relatively narrow approach might present problems from a theatrical point of view.

One of the recurring themes of the series is ‘who is the bad guy?’. When the outbreak (or whatever it is) begins in HATER, the natural assumption is that the Haters are the villains. But, for various reasons, we later start to question that assumption, particularly when the extent of the actions taken by the Unchanged to keep themselves safe is revealed. It’s clear that both sides are capable of doing whatever they have to do to survive, and this comes to a head at the end of DOG BLOOD. I’ll be vague in case you’ve not yet read the books (come on, keep up!), but a pretty unspeakable act is carried out by someone. It’s particularly shocking, because that act has huge ramifications for both sides and every surviving individual, Hater and Unchanged alike.

So that got me thinking, are the Unchanged as innocent as I initially thought? Are the Haters as evil and ferocious as they appear? Do the lines ever blur? Are there weaker Haters and stronger Unchanged? How clear is the distinction between the two?

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HATER timeline

With the release of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING – the first book in the second HATER trilogy – fast approaching, I thought it would be interesting to start showing you how the two series are connected. They both tell different stories, but there are shared events and locations and… and I’m not going to tell you much more just yet.

With apologies for my limited graphics skills, here’s a handy timeline:

In case you’re new around here or need to catch up in readiness for the new books, HATER, DOG BLOOD and THEM OR US are available now. EVERYTHING AND NOTHING is a free ebook download which you can get here, and ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING hits the shelves on 5 December 2017.